Sheikh Salman al-Oadah
Playing chess for money is unlawful. If it is played merely for recreation, then we cannot say it is unlawful. It is wrong to try to compare chess with intoxicants and gambling by arguing that chess, like those vices, is "an abomination of Satan’s handiwork", a cause for hatred and dispute, and a hindrance from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer.
Allah says, regarding alcohol and gambling: "O you who believe, indeed intoxicants, gambling, stone alters, and divination are abominations of Satan's handiwork, so avoid them that you may be successful. Satan only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling and to avert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. So will you not desist?" [Sûrah al=Mâ’idah: 90-91
If this game brings about such ill affects, then it should certainly be prohibited. However, I personally know some people who play chess while strictly guarding their prayers, refraining from arguing and avoiding all bad language.
As for becoming distracted from the remembrance of Allah, this is something common to all games and activities, as most work completely occupies the minds of those engaged in it. In spite of this fact, we see that most activities are lawful, while some are preferred, and still others are obligatory. Some of these activities, like horse riding, fencing, and industrial arts and crafts, have been classified as a collective duty on society, because at one time or another societies were or still are in need of those skills.
Source: Islam Today